Friday, 20 August 2021

REVIEW: Memories of Musicals at the Kilworth House Theatre

Kilworth House Theatre is a delightful venue for anyone living in the Midlands or who fancies a Musical Theatre night away in an elegant Grade II listed hotel. Opened in 2007 by the Producer Celia Mackay, it is a delightful setting in the woodland glade with a purpose-built well equipped 550 seat auditorium, with the lovely Staging Post log cabin next door for Theatre only visitors and the wonderful Orangery Restaurant in the Hotel for those who book for an excellent three-course preshow dinner or overnight stay just a short walk up the hill. It makes for a very convivial evening for friends and families who share a love of live musical theatre.

Of course, its usual routine of one or two fully staged musicals each season (May to September) has not been possible but instead, they have staged this August a very well-produced musical tribute to all its previous productions and a celebration of the best of Musical Theatre which is perfectly judged and welcomed by a loyal audience who I suspect knew many of the songs as well as the cast. However, this is also a very well-cast show with six artists who blend together backed by an excellent band of eight under the lively and passionate direction of MD, George Dyer. They cut the chat to a bare minimum, create slick segues between tunes and pack 48 musical items into the two-hour running time. It’s a joy to watch.

From their 1st Production in 2007 Pirates of Penzance to the last pre-pandemic show Cats in 2019 they cover so many favourite shows including many of my favourite titles; Me and My Girl, the Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, South Pacific and West Side Story to name a few. Director Matthew Goodgame weaves it all together in a seamless package playing all the romantic leads himself such as in 'Oklahoma', 'Luck be a Lady' and 'I have never been on Love before', 'Some Enchanted Evening', 'On the street where you live' and 'Maria' which I am sure set the hearts a flutter of many in the audience! Oscar Conlon-Morrey brings his larger-than-life stage personality to many Musical Theatre comic characters such as in 'Moses Supposes', 'Be a Dentist', 'I am the very model of a modern major general”, 'Sit down you’re Rocking the Boat' and 'Flash Bang Wallop' and as he did in the West End in Only Fools and Horses, steals each scene in his numbers and in the rest! The third male performer is Owen McHugh who brings the choreography from Melanie Cripps to life in neat well-executed routines such as 'Singin' in the Rain', 'Anything Goes' and 'Putting on the Ritz' opposite a well-matched Julia Imbach. She also gets to deliver the quirky 'Cockeyed Optimist' and beautiful 'Some Enchanted Evening'.

The big female numbers are shared by two wonderful West End leading ladies. Emma Williams beautiful voice gives us the emotional 'Sound of Music', 'You’re the Top', 'I Got Rhythm', 'Tonight' and 'People will say we are in love'. Carole Stennett gets to shine in the powerful 'Memory' and 'Bless our Show' (from Sister Act). When the three ladies come together, we get some of the best moments in the show such as 'Climb Every Mountain', 'I Could Have Danced all Night' and 'I Hate Men'. 

The band too get their moment to show off in a wonderfully arranged musical introduction to Act 2 as each previous show poster is highlighted and we get a snippet of a well-known tune and we have joyous full company renditions of 'Another Opening, another show' to open the show and 'You’ll never walk alone' to close it. 

There is something for all Musical Theatre tastes in a good-looking show with a well-mixed clear sound, clean effective lighting and a talented cast clearly enjoying being on stage again in front of an appreciative audience. Theatrical magic that leaves you wanting more and a very good night out.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Outdoor row G | Price of Ticket: £35

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